This weekend, Jews around the world celebrate Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the holiest day of the calendar. In the afternoon prayer’s haftarah, widely considered the holiest reading from the latter books of the Bible, we read the Book of Jonah.

Now we all know the story of Jonah and the whale, right? Take it away Veggietales:

Well, that is sort of the story. If you only read half of the book. And miss the point of the half you read. Let’s start at the beginning to see how the story of Jonah is today more important than ever for our community.

At the beginning of the story, as we all know, God instructs Jonah to head to Ninveh “to proclaim judgment upon it; for their wickedness has come before me” (JPS translation, Jonah 1:2). Lost on most readers is the fact that Ninveh is the capital of Assyria, the Kingdom which was at near constant war with Jonah’s own northern Kingdom of Israel. In fact, just 50 years after the events of Jonah, Assyria would defeat the northern Kingdom and exile its inhabitants to Assyria (see, 2 Kings 17).

Naturally, Jonah does not want to save his political enemies. Knowing what we now know, we can easily sympathize: if Jonah had not saved the Assyrian capital from divine destruction, then his Kingdom would likely not have lost the war and his people may not have been exiled.

So Jonah makes a run for it. Things don’t go so well, he gets cast in the sea, and swallowed by a whale (actually, a “huge fish” but that’s neither here nor there). Jonah repents declaring “What I have vowed I will perform” (2:10).

That is where the Disney version of Jonah ends.  But the Bible version has two more chapters (out of 4 total) which is almost always ignored in popular retellings of the story.

The Bible tells us that, as we might expect for the capital city of a large Kingdom: “Nineveh was an enormously large city, a three days’ walk across” (3:3). Jonah, however, takes the easy way out, merely going “one day’s walk and proclaimed: ‘Forty days more, and Ninveh shall be destroyed'” (3:4). Remarkably, despite Jonah’s half-assed effort, the people of Nineveh believe this crazy man form an enemy state who was just regurgitated by a large whale. From the peasant to the King they repent, fast, and beg the Lord for forgiveness, “And God renounced their punishment He had planned to bring upon them and did not carry it out” (3:10).

God just saved Jonah’s enemies. The Bible tells us that “This displeased Jonah greatly” (4:1). He even admits: “That is why I fled beforehand.” Jonah realized that, despite his best efforts, he has just given aid to the enemy, saving their lives, and committing an act of treason in the process. He begs God: “Please, Lord, take my life for I would rather die than live” (4:3).

Distressed, Jonah wanders out east of the enemy’s capital and sits down in the shade. This is when God decides to prove a point.

God makes a plant grow above Jonah to provide shade for him (4:6). He then sends a worm to eat the plant: “the sun beat down on Jonah’s head, and he became faint” (4:8). Jonah has just seen his enemies saved, is now out in the wilderness, possibly afraid to head home to the country he just betrayed, and is now suffering heat stroke on top of it all. In his despair, Jonah once again begs God to take his life. God replies “‘Are you so deeply grieved about the plant?’ ‘Yes,’ he [Jonah] replied, ‘so deeply that I want to die.”

And this is where God makes his big point and the real moral of the story: “You cared about the plant, which you did not work for and which you did not grow, which appeared overnight and perished overnight. And should not I care about Nineveh, that great city in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons…and many beasts as well!” (4:10-11).

On the holiest haftarah read on the holiest day of the year, we read about the importance of placing human life above all else. The story of Jonah is not simply a story of bowing to God’s will. It is also a story about how there are things in this world that are more important than political loyalty for its own sake. It is about how we must value human life above all else.

Contrast this to the increasing tendency in recent years for synagogues to incorporate the State of Israel into the services. Mondoweiss reported that last year, synagogues in my home town of Chicago even sang Hatikva – Israel’s national anthem – at the culmination of their Yom Kippur service. I cannot think of a more stark contrast with the reading they must have just completed from the book of Jonah.

This year, let us commit once again to placing human life above all else. Let us not fall into the trap of talking about who is a “loyal Jew” and who is the “traitor son.” Let’s stop justifying atrocities against people simply because we call them “our enemies.” Let us drop the self-destructive talk about how to preserve Israel as a Jewish homeland. And instead, let us have a conversation about the importance of human life. Let us talk about how we can stop the violence being perpetrated by the State of Israel in our name against Palestinians, African migrants, and other non-Jews. And let us build a more just world together so that next year we can read the Book of Jonah knowing that we have learned its lessons, rather than repeated its protagonist’s follies.


Things are a bit busy here, so I’ve been bad about getting the rest of the One State / Two State posts out on time. But I couldn’t resist doing a quick commentary on what has to be the most absurd op-ed I read this week (and, given the articles published every day in this country, that is saying a lot).

Today, Ynet published an op-ed in defense of Nazareth Illit mayor Shimon Gapso. Gapso is a rabid racist who has refused to allow a single Arab school, mosque, or cemetery to open in his city (20% of whose residents are Arab); expressed support for plans that seek to get rid of the city’s non-Jewish residents; and has publicly lamented missing opportunities to kill more Palestinian Citizens of Israel.  He is currently running a reelection campaign on the promise to make Upper Nazareth “Jewish forever.” Gapso also published this amazing and amazingly accurate op-ed last week in Haaretz entitled “If you think I’m racist, then Israel is a racist state,” in which he correctly situates his own policies in the longer history of racist Zionist policies. But that is for another day.

Today, Smadar Shir published an op-ed in support of Gapso which simply needs to be read to be believed. It begins by situating (explaining? excusing? parodying?) the mayor’s “Jewish forever” call:

Shimon Gapso wants to preserve the Jewish character of his city, Nazareth Illit, which was built next to the Arab Nazareth. He toured southern Tel Aviv, which is adjacent to Arab Jaffa, and saw with his own eyes that there is not a trace left in it of Jewish character. Or perhaps Israeli character? White character? How do we say it in an enlightened country without being suspected of damned racism?

Here’s a hint: if you can’t find a way of saying it without sounding like a damned racist, it probably means that you are a damned racist. You can’t yearn for your pure Jewish-Israeli-White neighborhood and be ‘enlightened’ any more than Paula Dean can wax nostalgic for the plantation life and be considered ‘enlightened.’ You, ma’am, are a racist.

Shir does, however, admit that Gapso may have made a few misteps along the way. Unfortunately, those missteps have nothing to do with the content of his ideas:

In Israel you may do – you mustn’t talk. Because when you talk about the right vision it sounds bad, and the bleeding hearts immediately attack you and declare you a hooligan, a Nazi and even Hitler. Prepare the guillotine. He will be beheaded in the square of the town whose future he fears for.

Yes. Ethnic cleansing does “sound bad.” When you say it aloud, you get called a racist. The argument here appears to be that you shouldn’t talk about racist things in public, you should just go ahead an do racist things. Because democracy can go fuck itself.

Incredibly, Shir goes on to say:

Every person is entitled to choose not only his place of residence, but also his neighbors, and that’s not arrogance.

Unless, of course, they are Palestinian living beyond the Green Line. Then they get where they can live dictated to them by the Israeli army. Or if you are a non-Jewish citizen of Israel. Then you get told where you can and cannot live as well. But why should they enter in Shir’s thoughts?

Anyway, the rest of the op-ed ends with a confusing and ill-formed screed against alleged discrimination by Arabs. Honestly, it is so vague and badly written it is hard to know precisely what she is talking about. Regardless, it is at best off-topic.

If you can’t write an op-ed that doesn’t sound racist even to your own ears, maybe you should stop and reconsider.

This past week, Jews all over the world commemorated the Ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, the day which marks the destruction of Temple of Solomon in 586 BCE, the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, and a host of other tragedies that the Jewish people have experienced.

In the Babylonian Talmud (the Oral Torah), Tractate Yoma 9b, the Rabbis tried to make sense of the destruction of the Holy Temples. They start with the first one:

Why was the first Sanctuary destroyed? Because of three [evil] things which prevailed there: idolatry, immorality, bloodshed.

The explanation for the destruction of the Second Temple is probably the most well-known part of this passage, but I want to start by focusing in on the third of these cardinal sins that led to the destruction of the First Temple, bloodshed. The Rabbis explain:

Bloodshed [prevailed] as it is written: Moreover Manaseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another. They were wicked, but they placed their trust in the Holy One, blessed be He.

When the Rabbis wish to explain how bloodshed led to the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, they specify that the bloodshed in question was done by those who had faith in God.

Here, we see a theme that is all too familiar amongst modern-day supporters of the State of Israel: defenders often conflate the religious connection of the Jews to the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael) with the modern State of Israel in order to justify their violent acts. Yet here in the Oral Torah we see that this sort of thinking is precisely what led to the destruction of the First Temple.

Their explanation for the destruction of the Second Temple is much better known:

But why was the second Sanctuary destroyed, seeing that in its time they were occupying themselves with Torah, [observance of] precepts, and the practice of charity? Because therein prevailed hatred without cause. That teaches you that groundless hatred is considered as of even gravity with the three sins of idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed together.

Traditionally, this passage has been taken as a reference to the intense rivalry between the various Jewish sects that existed at the time of the Second Temple. And most of the commentary I saw this year seemed to follow this line of thinking, whether it be in the tensions over the Women of the Wall or over the campaigns for Chief Rabbi of Israel.

Notably absent from these op-eds is the intense hatred that anti-Zionist Jews experience from our fellow co-religionists on a regular basis. Personally, I have never experienced more anti-semitism than this past year, when I have been living under Israeli sovereignty. Whether being spit on for acknowledging the Nakba, being called a bigot for advocating for equal rights for Palestinians, or being called a “kike” for saying that African refugees ought not to be beaten up by a racist mob, there seems to be a special hatred reserved in the hearts of many Zionists for Jews willing to stand up against their racism.

This zealous Zionist-nationalism that predominates the mainstream Jewish community creates exactly the sorts of divisions that led to the destruction of the Second Temple. Rather than allow for a politically diverse religious communities, our synagogues and major NGOs seemingly prefer to rally around one specific political agenda. (A move that is disturbingly similar to the logic of the Jewish Question).

Reading this passage, however, there is no indication that “hatred without cause” is limited to hatred within the Jewish community. And, of course, what is racism if not baseless hatred?

This year, thinking about Tisha B’av, I am reminded of just how much hatred without cause is perpetrated by members and so-called leaders of our community. I am reminded of the physical attacks and government repression against African refugees, the most vulnerable members of society. I am reminded of a depressingly long and consistent pattern of violence by settler-colonists in the West Bank against their neighbors, and of the Israeli military authorities that do nothing to prevent such violence. I am reminded of Israel’s plans to continue the ethnic cleansing that it began in the Nakba in 1948, with the Prawer Plan, which will forcibly displace some 70,000 Bedouin citizens. And, of course, I am reminded of the constant stories of racism that mark both the Israeli state policy and the actions of too many of its citizens.

I am reminded of all of this and more and it is difficult not to feel that we are further than ever from healing the pains of Tisha B’av.

Thankfully, the struggle goes on. Ilana Prusher at Haaretz covers some of the efforts within Israel to mark Tisha Ba’av by highlighting and fighting the racism and apartheid perpetrated by the state. And Jews in the United States are organizing to renew our religious institutions, purging them of their corrupt politics, and fighting – in the name of our Judaism – against the bloodshed and hatred that mark the State of Israel.

God willing, next year these efforts will work their way into the mainstream and we can provoke the sorts of difficult conversations that need to happen within our community.

In the introductory post to this series, I argued that most current versions of the two-state solution are not viable and thus do not deserve to be taken seriously.

Nowadays, saying “I support a two-state solution” without any elaboration is just as meaningless or absurdist as saying “I support a no-state solution.”

In this post, I begin laying out precisely the sorts of elaborations that any solution – two-state or one-state – must address in order to become a meaningful statement. This is not a high bar to clear: many bad proposals should be capable of not being non-sense. But unfortunately, most versions of the two-state solution will not be able to answer these very basic questions.

This list of questions is by no means comprehensive; there are any number of smaller questions that must be figured out in the course of negotiations. But anyone who cannot answer these ten basic questions simply cannot be taken seriously. In other words, in the absence of clear, realistic answers to these questions a declaration of support for a two-state solution is essentially the same thing as a declaration of support for the apartheid status quo.

Once again, I want to urge those of us who support one-state solutions to likewise consider our answers to these questions, as well (especially when we move away from issues of drawing borders next post). As we shall see at the end of this exercise, we who support a single-state likewise have to elaborate our positions in more detail.

In the meantime, let us begin our Ten Questions for Supporters of a Two-State Solution:

1) Where are the borders?

The following image showing current Jewish settlement-colonies in the Occupied West Bank is taken from two-state proponents Americans for Peace Now’s very useful “Facts on the Ground” Interactive Map. Blue dots are settlement-colonies ilegal under international law while red dots are settlement-colonies illegal under both international and Israeli law.   

Screen Shot 2013-06-15 at 12.39.01 PM 

Quick! Draw a border.

That’s what I thought.

As the editor-in-chief of Ma’an News Agency recently told Mondoweiss’s Max Blumenthal:

Let them [Israel] call it what they like. But there will be no Palestinian state — I can’t see on a map where is Palestine and where is Israel.” Laham said he liked to challenge Israeli journalists to draw their country on a map, only because none of them are able to do it.

Back in the late-1990s, when “everybody knew” the solution, the borders were fairly obvious. Roughly, they would parallel the 1967 Green Line, with minor land swaps. Israel would keep Modi’in just on the Palestinian side of the Green Line, for example, while giving up some territory beyond the Green Line in the north or south to compensate for the loss of land.

Today, Israel refuses to use the Green Line as the basis for negotiations towards a two-state solutions. It is rather difficult to find any talk of future borders whatsoever amongst Israeli politicians of any variety. But when they do speak of borders, they now almost always talk about how “everybody knows” that they will keep all of the major settlement blocs, where around 75% of the settler-colonist population of the West Bank resides. Defining a settlement-bloc is rather difficult – some might say intentionally so – but the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem came up with the following educated guess:

In addition, Israel insists on keeping the “strategically important” Jordan Valley under its control. Once again, the exact boundaries of such an area are unclear, but ARIJ once again takes an educated, if on the expansionist side, guess.

Even the most conservative estimates put the Israeli “plan” as annexing 20% of the West Bank while isolating major Palestinian cities from each other. Just try and chart a path from Qalqilya to Hebron on the map above. No wonder Israel is refusing to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders!

We should stress once again, that the plan outlined above is the “consensus” mainstream Israeli plans. When talking with those who support the two-state solution in Israel and in their “liberal”-Zionist supporters, this is the plan they are most likely talking about. And it is completely unworkable, even if Israel could somehow convince the Palestinian leadership to accept such a raw deal.

So the first challenge to those who still support a two-state solution is to find the territory upon which  to establish a viable Palestinian state. Unless they can do this is a way that creates a viable Palestinian state, they are not serious. 

2) Do you divide Jerusalem?

This is more of a subset of the borders question than anything else, but it is always spun off as a separate issue for reasons that escape me.

For some bizarre reason, mainstream Israel has decided that the issue of Jerusalem is settled and they are keeping all of it. The issue is obviously far from settled, though. And the more construction of Jewish-only neighborhoods that happens around Jerusalem and the more Israel entrenches in this view, the less any possibility of any viable two-state solution becoming reality.

I won’t say that there is no possibility of a two-state solution without a divided or shared Jerusalem – because the awful PA leadership has given indications it is willing to compromise on the matter – but it does make things a hell of a lot more difficult, especially given the next question…

3) Where is Jerusalem?

I recently went on a tour of the Mt. of Olives with some family that was visiting from abroad. Unfortunately, the tour guide we got was not up to scratch. As we crossed into East Jerusalem, a woman on the tour asked him if we were going to be in the Occupied Palestinian Territories or not. Standing in illegally annexed land, he answered no. As we approached an eastern-facing lookout on top of the Mount of Olives, the same woman asked if we could see the West Bank at all. Staring directly into it, he once again answered no, stating that everything she was seeing was Israel, except for the tiny little bit of Palestine we could see.

I do not think our guide was being intentionally deceptive. Rather, it did not ever occur to this tour guide, who identified himself as left-of-center, that he was not only standing in Occupied East Jerusalem, but that he was staring out onto the West Bank, dotted as the landscape may have been by illegal Jewish-only settlement-colonies.

This is not a unique experience. “Peace activists” regularly object when I point out that Gilo is just as illegal under international law as is Gush Etzion. Likewise, I have been on tours with Jewish Israeli “peace groups” that tell me how “everybody knows” Israel will keep Ma’ale Adumim, increasingly referred to by Israel as part of the “indivisible Jerusalem.”

This ever-expanding idea of Jerusalem is also starting to filter outside of Israel as well. Recently, the New York Times ran a story referring to the settlement-colony of Har Homa as “a neighborhood on Jerusalem’s southern edge” despite the fact that it is closer to Bethlehem than to Jerusalem. These expansions – increasingly naturalized for even so-called leftist Israelis – are a huge impediment to any two-state vision.

As even the Europe Union now recognizes, current construction activity around the E-1 expansion of Ma’ale Adumim would make the creation of any Palestinian state – even one without Jerusalem – an impossibility, by cutting off the northern from the southern parts of the West Bank. Less well-covered, though perhaps even more problematic, are the Jewish-only neighborhoods being constructed throughout East Jerusalem.

The emerging policy consensus internationally – and certainly within Israel – is that Jerusalem will remain under sole Israeli control as part of any two-state solution. As I stated above in #2, this “consensus” alone is probably enough to scuttle any realistic possibility of achieving a two-state solution. But even if this understanding can somehow be forced upon Palestinian negotiators, the ever-expanding borders of Jerusalem make any establishment of a Palestinian state available. If these settlement-colonies are part of the “eternal Jewish capital of Jerusalem,” then we are no longer seriously talking about a two-state solution.

On the other hand, you also have several neighborhoods which – unlike Har Homa or Ma’ale Adumim – are within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, but are completely cut off from the rest of the city by a 30-foot tall steel-reinforced concrete “separation barrier.” The 25,000 residents of Kufr Aqab, 20,000 residents of the Shuafat refugee camp, or 1500 of Sheikh Sa’ad are legal permanent residents of Jerusalem residing within the city’s municipal boundaries. Here, the “indivisible Jerusalem” has been quite literally divided, and its residents cut off from most basic municipal services. Moreover, because of surrounding Jewish settlement-colonies that Israeli conventional wisdom believes it will keep in a two-state solution, it is difficult to imagine any territorial contiguity with these areas will be achieved. So what do two-state supporters propose be done with these neighborhoods? Will they find ways of incorporating these long-neglected ares of the city? Will they forcibly expel these residents and ethnically cleanse the city? Or will they seek to maintain semi-permanent ghettos within their midsts forever?

Questions 1 through 3 are all about the borders imagines for a future Palestinian state. Anyone who cannot present a reasonable answer to the questions of where to draw the borders, what to do with Jerusalem, and where they consider Jerusalem to be is simply not talking about a serious proposal for ending the conflict. In the absence of clear proposals on these questions, expressing support for a two-state solution is absolutely meaningless. In effect, there is no difference between such meaningless expression for a two-state solution and expressing support for the current apartheid regime: both achieve the exact same ends.

Although perhaps the most obvious issue to consider, however, borders are not the only thing that supporters of the two-state solution must figure out if they want to present serious proposals for ending the Palestine-Israel conflict. Join us next time as we look at the more human factors. As we do so, we’ll also start to encounter more directly the sorts of issues that one-state supporters must address if we wish to present clear pathways towards ending the conflict.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s quixotic push to restart negotiations between Israel and the PA has yielded a flurry fo  articles about the two-state solution in recent weeks. Much of the writing seems to think that the primary problem to overcome is the current Israeli government.

To be sure, the current government is a great obstacle to achieving any sort of post-conflict resolution. Over one-third of the Kenesset now belongs to the pro-settlement-colony caucus, or at least it did before Netanyahu banned Likud MKs from participating. This includes large chunks of all of the largest parties in the government coalition, including several “centrist” MKs who profess to support a two-state solution in theory.

In addition, Likud-party Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Danon has recently been shooting his mouth off – which only means saying in public what everyone knows in private – about how this government will never, under any circumstances, approve of a two-state solution. Nor is it entirely clear that Prime Minister Netanyahu disagrees. The solution, according to countless liberal Zionist commentators in the U.S. and Israel alike, is to get new politicians in there to pursue a two-state solution. Tzipi Livni is the choice de jure for these folk, despite the fact that her own history of negotiations makes it doubtful that she is any more serious. But regardless, the idea  is to change the political class and return to the Oslo framework.

There are several problems with the common wisdom that it is the politicians standing in the way of justice, which we’ll explore in posts starting later this week. But for now, we have to get this one big misconception out of the way. The Israeli politicians in question accurately reflect the public opinion of Israeli Jews. A recent survey (Heb, good English summary here) from a settlement-colony University shows that 54% of Israelis do not consider settlement-colonies to be illegal (23% disagree), 52% of Israeli Jews consider settlements to be a part fo Zionism (26% disagree), 46% consider them a security feature protecting the rest of Israel (28% disagree).

In short: the politicians decrying the two-state solution and advocating for either the status quo or for a formalized apartheid system are not outside the mainstream of Jewish-Israeli public opinion. In other words, any sort of end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will require rather large shifts in the Jewish Israeli public sphere. Such shifts are possible, but they are incredibly difficult. And whether we are talking of a one-state or the viability of a two-state solution, this needs to be our starting point if we want to address reality.

The problem is not the politicians; they are broadly representative of the population who is allowed to vote. Unfortunately, the people who can vote is not the same thing as the people they rule over.

When I was in high school, I did a bit of community organizing – mostly around issues of labor rights, prison policy, and education reform – with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice in New York. The group works primarily on issues that affect the New York community and doesn’t dabble much in  international affairs. Nonetheless, at some point an increasing number of the coalitions we wanted to work with adopted platforms that included commentaries on Palestine-Israel, Afghanistan, and later Iraq.

So JFREJ held a large meeting to discuss how it would relate to these emerging challenges. The meeting started off with everybody going around the room and stating their own personal preference for how best to solve the conflict. At the time – shortly after the collapse of the Oslo process – I still identified as a Liberal Zionist and when it came my time to speak, I voiced my support for two states for two peoples.

Then, an activist who I very much admired stood up: “Well, I favor a no-state solution, but barring that, I guess one state will do.”

I’m guessing that the comment reflected his own commitment to political anarchism more than anything else. But looking back on the incident, I’m inclined to take it as a subtle critique of just how absurd the exercise we were engaging in was.

No, I’m not referring to the fact that a group of New York Jews were supposedly trying to solve the conflict, alone, in a downtown Manhattan office building. Something needed to be done to ensure that a meeting on organizational strategy didn’t devolve into a debate about the peace process and this did the job.

Rather, I’m referring to just how fantastically absurd it is these days to simply say “I support a two-state solution.”

Back when I was in New York, the details of a political solution to the conflict seemed less pressing. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, many people started talking about how “we all know what the solution is going to be.” So much so that Jed Bartlett even solved the conflict in one of the most agonizingly awful story lines of the West Wing, circa 2005. When they (OK, we, as at the time i was one of these people) said that the solution was obvious, it meant that the Green Line would be the new borders with minor adjustments to minimize difficult population transfers.

In reality, the details were far less clear than we arrogant New Yorkers thought at the time. The issue of whether or how to divide Jerusalem, where to draw the borders, or how to get between Gaza and the West Bank were never really thought through to the extent that the common wisdom claimed. But these were relatively minor issues that we thought could be worked out in negotiations.

This solution may not have been a particularly good solution; in all likelihood it would have been a travesty of justice, but that’s a topic for another post. Non-Jewish minorities within Israel would still have been second-class citizens, families would remain separated, and refugees’s rights would certainly have been derailed. But even if it was not a particularly good solution it was one that could have been implemented. That is to say, if you wanted, you could take a map and, roughly, draw out a future border and begin to plan around these lines in the sand. You could have even begun a discussion on the challenging work of institution-building, infrastructure investment, and cross-border relations that any agreement – regardless of the number of states involved – will have to undertake. And, presumably they could come up with viable plans to transfer the Jewish settler-colonial population out of the West Bank or alternatively have them submit to Palestinian sovereignty. Those of us who follow other post-conflict countries know that, for better or worse, bad but feasible plans often win out over better alternatives and in the 1990s, the plans being discussed were at least possible to imagine.

Over the next month or two, we’re going to be exploring the two-state solution in greater detail. The next substantive posts will focus on the criteria that a two-state solution would have to meet these days to be taken seriously. As we shall see, this is a very high bar which almost (but not all) current versions of the two-state solution fail to meet. After that, we’ll see the ways elite political talk about the two-state solution is changing in ways that should give us quite a bit of hope. Later on, we’ll also explore what all this talk about Israel’s “right to exist” or about the “importance of maintaining a Jewish demographic majority” actually mean. There will also be a post on how to teach kids about the benefits and drawbacks of a two-state solution. (And if there are any special requests on the topic in the meantime, leave a comment or get in touch!) Who knows? Maybe we’ll get a Torah Thursday in there as well. 

In this series of posts, there will be many smaller points made. But the big takeaway: Nowadays, saying “I support a two-state solution” without any elaboration is just as meaningless or absurdist as saying “I support a no-state solution.”

If you need any proof of this, you have to look no further than Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who in an interview with the Washington Post this week declared his support for the two-state solution, even saying that he was constantly urging Prime Minister Netanyahu to do more to achieve peace. These statements are somewhat suspicious, given that in the past he has refused a settlement-colony freeze, refused to even consider a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem, gives major policy addresses from settlement-colonies,  and has called for Israeli sovereignty over large swaths of the West Bank that would make a Palestinian state unviable. Despite holding policy positions that would make a two-state solution all but impossible, Lapid gets to go around saying that he supports a two-state solution only because that phrase has become completely devoid of content.

As we’ll see in this series of posts, there are certainly some version of the two-state ideology that meet such criteria for viability (whether or not they are desirable is, again, another question). But not too many.

Finally, it is important to note that this exercise is not just about beating up on two-staters. As we shall see, going through this discussion on exactly what is wrong with the two-state vision will also force those of us who support a one-state solution to come to grips with new sorts of questions (many of which are already being productively discussed in certain circles). Otherwise, we may be as irrelevant in 10 years time as the two-staters are today. So we’ll close out this series with a post on the implications of these discussions for one-staters.

%d bloggers like this: